Sunday, August 17, 2008

Children's Choirs Can and Do Sing Gregorian Propers

Each year, the Byrd Festival has sung all three Byrd Masses: for three, four, and five voices. Last evening was the five-voice Mass at the Solemn Pontifical vigil Mass in the ordinary form for the 20th Sunday of the year, at the Church of St. Stephen, Portland, Oregon. Celebrant: Most Reverend Basil Meeking. Concelebrant: Very Reverend Monsignor Dennis O’Donovan.

From the first notes, something was remarkable about the music. The Gregorian introit was sung by the children's choir of Cantores in Ecclesia. You might read that sentence again and consider what it means. Children's choirs hardly exist anymore in our parishes. Those that do are centered on singing unbearable seasonal songs. Hardly any training goes on anymore. This is a major reason why the Catholic Church is in such a bad way concerning music.

But my point in writing is not to complain about what we already know. Here was seen something that hardly anyone knows: children can sing Gregorian propers.

I’m so very pleased to offer the following audio proof. Keep in mind that this is not a recording studio. It is a live liturgy, just one week, and they do this most every week, or, at least, they are prepared to do this most every week.

Now we can see how it is that this children’s choir has become a secret feeder choir for many great ensembles in the United States, including the adult Cantores group.

And from Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, the following from the full Cantores in Ecclesia as directed on this occasion by Richard Marlow.

Finally, two incredible motets from this Mass:

Again, this is a remarkable group and a remarkable program that deserves more attention and plentiful support.

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